Thursday, September 17, 2009


We went to Nagasaki City for the first time yesterday. Again, we got a bit "over-adventurous". "Over-adventurous" is our new term for "where the F!#* are we?!". This city is HUGE. I mean, it's probably the size of Houston. We did however start out on the right foot. See, we have now learned to go with a plan. When all else fails you can get in a cab and have someone else take you! But, when you don't have plans, you end up wandering the streets wondering where the awesome stuff that you hear about could possibly be hiding. See the other thing is there are no little books on Nagasaki. Which I find so weird. They cover it extensively in all of the big books, but there are no little one's that come with those convenient fold out maps and zoomed in sections of awesomeness. Do you know of one? Please indulge us if you do. Now, this isn't going to become another long entry of how we got lost, because we did do some rather AMAZING things.

Nagasaki is so beautiful. Granted it's rather new; that's right, I'm looking at you A-Bomb. But the thing is, I don't think it would be what it is today had that not happened. That does not in anyway justify the use of bombs, it just means that they obviously have made the best of the worst.

We got off the train, which was a beautiful ride of ocean and islands, and headed to the Nagasaki Peace Park. The Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum sit in the hypocenter of the drop. That's right, how creepy is that, to know that we were standing in the place that the oh so famous mushroom cloud once was. The grounds are huge, about 3 kilometers or so. I am sure there is an exact amount, but who knows. The Peace park is about the size of a football field and is scattered with statues which have been given as gifts to contribute to the idea of world peace that the park promotes. The feeling at the park is very mellow and meaningful, as I am sure most massive memorials are. Not much general talking, but a constant hustle and bustle of tour groups, mainly children, being shuffled around from statue to statue, posing for class pictures in front of the Peace Statue, and dutifully listening to explanation's from the guides (which happen to be dressed like flight attendant's from the 50's).

Right hand pointing up to warn of the bomb, left hand pointing out to symbolize world peace, left leg ready to defend, and the right leg bent to symbolize harmony and meditation.

This sight immediately brings back memories of 5th grade (pardon me if you didn't grow up in San Antonio, and can not relate to this next story). Every 5th grader in San Antonio is taken to visit the Alamo, and to see the movie, Alamo: The Price of Freedom at the IMAX. You do your duty, moving quickly through, standing at and crossing the line that Davey Crockett drew in the sand, and if your're lucky eating lunch at MacArthur Park before you have to go back to school. I bring this up, because of the fact that we American 5th graders show no excitement to honor a building that was host to a horrific death battle ultimately ensuring our future freedom. We wine because it's hot, and don't pay two ounces of respect, and we even have the actual building to look at. I bring this up, because we spent a good 10 minutes watching a I'd say 6th grade class conduct a heartfelt ceremony at the base of the statue. They started with a speech, then 2 special classmates walked side by side carrying peace offerings in which they simultaneously placed in the altar. Upon returning to their uniformed lines (all wearing red hats have you know) there was another small speech. Then, the back row picked up some plastic instruments, which if I dare explain, were Casio Key Boards with a mouth piece attached recorder style. The class proceeded to sing a song, in complete harmony, with complete passion and a few cracked notes. That my friends, is a way to honor your country's sacrifice.

We continued to walk around, traveling through the statue gardens making our way to the Atomic Bomb Museum. The museum starts with the moment the bomb dropped, which is displayed rather intensely with a single wall clock recovered from someones home displayed in a glass box battered and broken with the hands stopped at exactly 11:02. The museum is silent at that point with the exception of a repetitive "tic-toc, tic-toc", and there is no light from overhead. As you proceed, you pass by parts of buildings, and the actual parts, not reproductions like at the Civil Rights Museum. You look at burnt clothing and wooden fences with patterns of tree leafs left on the surface after the sudden burst of light. Then you get to the intense stuff, like fragments of human bone melted into cement and glass, and helmets with bits of skull bone embedded, pictures of little kids trapped under rocks, it all gets quite graphic for a bit. Then you move on, and they take you through the replicas of relief efforts, give you the opportunity to hear survivor stories, and then into the aftermath and long term effects. You then proceed to exhibits on where nuclear bombs are today and they lay out who has them and what they intend to do with them. After looking at all of the things previous, you aren't left very interested and are a little emotionally drained, so we pretty much breezed through that part. Except to learn that Russia has the most nuclear bombs, something neither of us knew.

The bridge is directly over the center of the hypo center where the Atomic Bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

It wasn't a museum about WWII so there was no mention about the war at the time. Many people might think that is unfair, to not show that American' forces had their reasons to drop the bomb, but to us, it's okay they don't address that side. It's a memorial to the massive bomb that was dropped on a city, not a memorial to WWII. They don't need to talk about what happened before the bomb, it doesn't matter. The fact is, it was dropped, a great many people of many different countries were killed and hurt, and it was built to honor them.

We left very humbled Americans, to say the least.

Needless to say, nothing we did after that was very satisfying. Chinatown was cool, but not very festive at the time, and then we walked around for 3 hours trying to find Nagasaki Station. Which turned out was quite far from where we were and we probably should have taken a cab. We weren't even leaving from that station, we just insisted on finding it to prove to ourselves that we aren't complete idiots and can find our way when we are over-adventurous. I did a lot of whining, after all I didn't wear socks with my chucks and that gave me the right to complain about everything else but my feet, but the better half emerged in the form of Brandon and did a lot of motivating After asking many people many things in what could have been Japanese we finally made it back to our rightful train station, grabbed some drinks, and headed back home to our delightful dorm room.


  1. jewell and brandon, what an awesome day in nagasaki. thank you for sharing your thoughts and emotions on this truly epochal human event.
    those of us who have never been to this memorial can't possibly appreciate it for what it was. thanks again, and much love to you, nat............!!

  2. Jewell and Brandon... when you travel to other cities, do a computer search of the area ahead of time. I typed in the search: 'Nagasaki travel guide' and all kinds of travel info pops up that you could print off.... when the festivals occur, etc
    You had a very meaningful and insightfulday in that historical place, thank you for sharing

  3. Wow, The imagery is a bit disconcerting, but it all comes from the gore of war. I wish Man would reconsider everytime they pick up a weapon, or spend billions creating nuclear weapons, money easily spent on improving man's life on earth. But all are wishes, hopefully man can understand the need for Diplomacy and realize and cherish our differences. Nice writing.